Ex-Seven producer to give second day of evidence in Bruce Lehrmann defamation trial

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Bruce Lehrmann’s defamation case against Network 10 and Lisa Wilkinson has officially been reopened, with proceedings underway before Justice Michael Lee in the Federal Court in Sydney.

Former senior producer on Channel 7’s Spotlight program, Taylor Auerbach, has made explosive claims about the network’s dealings with Mr Lehrmann before he agreed to an exclusive, tell-all interview with the program.

On Thursday, Auerbach told the court during an evening with Mr Lehrmann the ex-Liberal staffer purchased cocaine and paid for sex workers.

Auerbach will return to court today to give a second day of evidence.

Follow our blog for live updates.

Allegations of cocaine and sex workers

During his evidence on Thursday, Auerbach said he attended the Meriton Hotel in Sydney’s CBD in January, 2023, at a time when he was “building rapport” with Mr Lehrmann in the hope of securing an exclusive interview with him for Spotlight.

He said that over dinner, the ex-Liberal staffer had purchased a bag of cocaine.

“When we got upstairs to the room, (Lehrmann) pulled it out and started to put it on a plate and then started talking to me about a prospective Spotlight story and his desire to order prostitutes to the Meriton that night and began googling series of websites to try and make that happen,’’ Auerbach said.

“And during that conversation he agreed to be in a Spotlight interview, as long as we didn’t ask him about what happened on the night in Canberra.”

Auerbach told the court that he told Mr Lehrmann he didn’t have the money to pay for the drugs or sex workers at the night at the Meriton. He told the court Mr Lehrmann said he would pay.

The producer said he contacted his boss, Spotlight senior producer Steve Jackson and said he was worried given the previous events with the Thai masseuse.

Auerbach said he recalled texting Jackson that “Bruce was on the warpath again”.

“This is f*cked,’’ he said.

Seven responds to shock claims

Seven has responded to the shock allegation in the Federal Court over claims Mr Lehrmann partied with sex workers and cocaine insisting it is “appalled” by the evidence.

In a statement on Thursday night, Seven also rejected outside court Auerbach’s claims he was offered a promotion and a pay rise after the masseuse allegations.

“Seven is appalled by the allegations made in recent days. We do not condone the behaviours described in these allegations,’’ a spokesperson said.

“They do not reflect the culture of Seven.

“Seven did not offer a promotion or pay rise to Mr Auerbach in November 2022, nor did it do so at any time after that.

“Seven did not reimburse Bruce Lehrmann for expenditure that has allegedly been used to pay for illegal drugs or prostitutes, and has never done so. Seven notes the matter remains before the courts.”

‘State of undress’: Explosive nude photo revelation

During cross examination, Mr Lehrmann’s barrister Matthew Richardson SC asked Auerbach if he had been involved in the distribution of nude photographs of a woman sitting on a couch with Jackson.

“Is that true?’’ the barrister asked.

“Yes, sir,’’ Auerbach replied.

“At some point during February or March of this year, did you circulate photographs of a woman in a state of undress taken about five years ago?’’ Mr Richardson asked, to which Auerbach replied, “Yes, sir”.

He also confirmed that the woman’s breasts were exposed in the photographs, though denied she was a woman he “understood to be vulnerable”.

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